The cheerleaders of neoliberal policy are rising like zombies after the current collection of economic, health, climate, and political crises seemed to bury them for a while. It is not going to be enough for the left to defend the current economic wreck, we must advocate to build something better just to keep what we have. Socialists have the social and economic policy programs to deal directly with these challenges we face. It is time to dust them off and fight for them with abandon.
The transport sector represents one of the biggest challenges when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. They are increasing faster than from any other sector in society -- and at an ever-increasing pace (over 120% globally over the last 30 years -- and still increasing in all parts of the world). In Europe, transport is the largest climate problem accounting for 27% of its green-house gas emissions (GHGs) in 2017. It is also the only sector which emissions are above 1990 levels (Transport & Environment, 2018).
In the US, the Green New Deal has gained deserved momentum because it is being promoted by charismatic elected officials, propelled to power on the basis of their broad left-wing credentials – and not only because of their focus on climate. We cannot bypass this step in Canada. This means that unapologetic socialist elements in our labour party must also be propelled into a position to promote such an agenda.
The criticism of the Leap Manifesto as being too radical or too far to the left falls flat when examined in the context of current policy of progressive energy labour unions. The fact is, the Leap document is not 'radical' in essence, it is centre-left/liberal. This is a problem for those who want to discredit it with baseless name calling. Unfortunately, calling it far-left or extremely radical causes confusion and undermines the broader left program demanding the necessary radical solutions to climate change.
We need reality-based solutions for facilitating and funding a Just Transition for workers. It will require the government to invest in publicly owned productive capacity that will generate the revenue needed to fund the hiring and drive the economic transition in the correct direction. This is not a new idea, but it is one that is proven to work.
For the first time, unions and how they need to mobilise against climate change made it on the list of discussion points at Labor Notes. There is a lot of history to why it took so long to make climate change and green alternatives a priority (spoiler: it has a lot to do with some powerful trades unions being opposed). However, the progressive (and historically correct) position on this is winning across the labour movement and it is now considered an essential struggle by the majority of workers.
In December 2012, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled part of the Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) illegal. A WTO panel decided that “Buy Local” conditions on wind and solar power projects, designed to ensure local development and jobs benefits to Ontarians, violate international free-trade rules. This decision exposes the very real barrier that these rules put in front of our economic and environmental policy options, and to the idea of sustainable development more generally.